Marguerite Poland’s A SIN OF OMISSION longlisted for the Ondaatje Prize

Awarded by the UK’s Royal Society of Literature to an outstanding work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry that best evokes the spirit of a place, the Ondaatje Prize is yet to be won by a South African.

Poland’s deeply poignant novel is set in the Eastern Cape of the late 1800s and tells the story of a black South African Anglican deacon, Stephen (Malusi) Mzamane, trained in England but now marooned in a rundown mission in Fort Beaufort, where he battles the prejudices of colonial society.

Selected by judges Samira Ahmed (Chair), Roger Robinson and Joelle Taylor, Poland shares the list with eight more writers. The shortlist will be announced on 24 April, with the winner announced on 10 May.

Winner of the 2021 SUNDAY TIMES Prize, A SIN OF OMISSION had also been shortlisted for the 2020 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction. The novel is published in South Africa by Penguin Random House. The Lennon-Ritchie Agency sold UK rights to EnvelopeBooks. For rights enquiries, contact the agency.

Four new awards for novelist David Cornwell’s feature film

Novelist, screenwriter and musician David Cornwell has recently roped in not one but four awards for his first feature film. POU won Best Horror Feature Film and Tarryn Wyngaard Best Actor in a Feature Film at the Winter Film Awards in New York City. POU also won Best Cinematography and Wyngaard was named Best Actress at the Romford Horror International Film Festival in the UK.

David co-wrote and co-produced POU (‘PEACOCK’) between 2018 and 2021 while working on his second novel, HELL OF A COUNTRY. POU is an atmospheric Afrikaans-language Gothic horror about a young woman who is forced to care for an apartheid-era patriarch on his isolated farm as he battles demons from his past.

POU was shown at Idyllwild, the Buffalo International Festival, Razor Reel (where it received a Special Mention in the Youngblood Awards) and the SA Horror Fest (where it won Best Feature). It is currently available to stream in Africa via Amazon Prime. Critic Steven Aspeling called it ‘one of the best and most elegant horror dramas to come out of South Africa.’

For available rights to David’s work, click here.

THE SON OF THE HOUSE is Shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize

Congratulations to Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia! Her book, THE SON OF THE HOUSE, has been shortlisted for the prestigious Scotiabank Giller Prize. The shortlist, comprising just five books, was announced on Tuesday, 5 October.

Of THE SON OF THE HOUSE, the jury said: “It is a delightful gift to find a book you feel fortunate to have read, akin to discovering a treasure. That is the case with The Son of the House. The novel explores issues of patriarchy and classism, themes of friendship and loss through the lenses of two very different yet unexpectedly connected women in Nigeria. Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia writes a modern novel with fairytale elements and prose that punches you in the gut, leaving you wonderfully stunned by the time the book is finished.”

THE SON OF THE HOUSE is Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia’s debut novel, published in South Africa by Penguin Random House in 2019 and in North America by Dundurn Press in 2021. It has also been published in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, Armenia and the United Arab Emirates. It shares the Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlist with Omar El Akkad’s WHAT STRANGE PARADISE (published by McClelland & Stewart, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada), Angélique Lalonde’s story collection GLORIOUS FRAZZLED BEINGS (published by House of Anansi), Jordan Tannahill’s THE LISTENERS (published by HarperCollins Canada) and Miriam Toews’ FIGHT NIGHT (published by Knopf Canada, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada).

The plot revolves around an encounter under duress between Nwabulu and Julie, two women from vastly different backgrounds. They’re united by the same societal pressure: to marry and reproduce. Set in Nigeria, the novel is alive with local culture and family drama. It uplifts the resilience of women navigating patriarchal society.

Onyemelukwe-Onuobia is a lawyer, academic and writer of Nigerian origin who is based in both Nigeria and Canada. She graduated with a doctorate in law from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia and works primarily in the areas of health, gender, and violence against women and children. 

THE SON OF THE HOUSE has been met with critical acclaim. It won the SprinNG Women Author Prize 2020. It also received the Best International Fiction Book Award at the Sharjah International Book Fair 2019. 

The Scotiabank Giller Prize rewards outstanding Canadian fiction. It was established by businessman Jack Rabinovitch in honour of his late wife, author Doris Giller, in 1994. Scotiabank came on board in 2005, quadrupling the financial value of the award. The 2021 winner will receive $100 000 and each finalist $10 000. 

The 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize jury is chaired by Canadian author Zalika Reid-Benta. She is assisted by fellow writers Megan Gail Coles, Joshua Whitehead, Tash Aw and Joshua Ferris. Of the 132 works submitted for the prize, twelve were longlisted and five shortlisted. 

The winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize will be announced on 8 November at a ceremony in Toronto hosted by Paul Sun-Hyung Lee and Rupi Kaur.